Muslim elders urged worshippers to return to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on Thursday after Israel backed down in the face of 10 days of often-violent protests and removed all security measures it had installed at the site.
Israel’s decision marks a significant climbdown by Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and comes after days of diplomatic effort by the United Nations, the involvement of President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy and pressure from countries in the region including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
The dispute began after Israel installed metal detectors, cameras and steel barriers at Muslim entrances to Al-Aqsa compound, also known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, following the July 14 killing of two Israeli policemen by Arab gunmen who had concealed weapons there.
The extra security provoked days of unrest, with violent clashes on the streets of East Jerusalem.
But Muslim elders declared themselves satisfied that Israeli authorities had reverted to how security was before July 14.
“The technical report showed that all obstacles the occupation (Israel) put outside Al-Aqsa mosque were removed,” said Abdel-Azeem Salhab, the head of the Waqf, the Jordanian-funded trust that oversees Jerusalem’s Muslim holy sites.